TLC's Extreme Couponing raising controversy as new season approaches
As coupon shoppers around the country brace for the 12-episode season premiere of TLC's "Extreme Couponing" tonight, one of the shoppers featured in the new season is the subject of controversy on the web.
Jaime Kirlew, a paralegal and coupon workshop instructor from Maryland, is coming under fire from several coupon-related forums for the unethical coupon tactics that she utilized in a series of YouTube videos demonstrating how to use coupons in a fraudulent manner while shopping at Target.
In 2010, Jaime Kirlew called herself the "Diva For Coupons" and ran a blog under the same name. She caused a stir when she posted two videos of her Target shopping trips, in which she used $4 coupons for Schick Razors on Schick shaving gel, $10 Crest Whitestrip coupons on other P&G products, and a host of other flagrant misuses of coupons issued for one product being used on another. As if showcasing coupon fraud weren't enough, Jaime also showed herself using printable coupons for $5 off Procter & Gamble products. (Trouble is, P&G has never issued printable coupons for their products, and those same coupons had been on the CiC's list of known counterfeit coupons for about five months by the time she made her videos.)
At the time, the YouTube videos spread around the web on large coupon forums, including SlickDeals.com and AFullCup.com, where a forum user wrote:
"Seriously...what a disgrace to honest couponers who stil manage to have a great stockpile and save tons of money without using coupons fraudently...
the Olay coupons was for REGENERIST ONLY..not ANY Olay..the Vaseline coupons was for the SHEER INFUSION, not ANY..the Johnson's coupon specifically excluded Buddy Bars, which you bought anyways...you are that type of couponer who gives the rest of us a bad name...I bet you also doctor internet coupons and make multiple copies of coupons huh....well I have forwarded your video to the loss prevention officer at your Gaithersburg Target and urge others to call him at 125 Grand Corner Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, (301) 721-1760. Just ask for loss prevention, they seem to already have quite a nice file on her and this was just the evidence they needed. Would you like the "get out of jail free" card from my kid's Monopoly game?? Loser!"
Over at SlickDeals, member Krysdl08 watched the videos and wrote:
"This is major coupon fraud and I can not believe the cashier K1's everything. They need to put this lady in some handcuffs and teach her a lesson.
$4.00 MQ for Olay Total Effects BW on Secret Deodorant
$2.00 TQ for Nivea Q10 Shave Gel or Balm on Nivea Body Wash
$4.00 MQ for Schick Intuition Razor or Refill (expired 6/6) on Schick Shave Gel
$1.00 IP for Vaseline Clinical Therapy paired with the .75 TQ on Vaseline Lotion (3.1 oz or larger)on Vaseline Total Moisture (3.0 oz)
$5.00 MQ for Windex Outdoor All In One Glass Cleaning Tool on the Windex"
Jaime responded by posting in the YouTube comments of one of her videos:
"I received many comments this morning after views of this new video that were horribly rude and hurtful. Everything I learned about coupons I was told from a company called BeCentsAble and I moved forward with their instruction. While I appreciate the many comments on "fraud" and "you should be put in jail" I am doing exactly as BeCentsAble told me. Perhaps they should be contacted? I had no idea of the many dimensions of fraud and I apologize for misdirecting."
Soon after, Jaime closed her YouTube channel but continued to teach coupon workshops at $25/head. (She has since raised her workshop fee to $35/head, according to another messageboard.)
When the new trailers for the show began running, users at SlickDeals and A Full Cup recognized Jaime from her former YouTube videos and began raising concerns:
"I noticed a familiar face while watching the commercial last night and so I looked the new cast members up. Sure enough divaforcoupons is going to be on the show. I am sure most of you remember her blantant coupon abuse and that she taught coupon abuse thru her workshops. Many Sd'ers gave her quite a lashing about her ill ways and she pulled the you tube videos.Do you think she has learned enough and changed or is she going to wreak havoc with her misinterpretation of q's and give us all a bad name. I am afraid of how damaging she was previously and how bad it could get with more stores making stricter policies if she still doesn't know how to coupon correctly."
- SlickDeals member Sgtrazor
Users at coupon forum A Full Cup also noted that the woman shown in the new TLC trailers was the same woman, Jaime Kirlew, who had created the DivaForCoupons Target videos. TelevisionWithoutPity.com continued the discussion of Jaime's fraudulent Target videos.
Many of these users took their concern's to TLC's Extreme Couponing Facebook Wall, which buzzed with questions from viewers and concerned coupon shoppers -- why would the show choose to feature someone who has already known in the couponing community as someone who uses coupons in such a blatant, fraudulent manner? TLC deleted these negative posts from their Extreme Couponing Facebook wall for a few days. Over the weekend, the entire TLC Extreme Couponing Facebook page was deleted. (View the page, minus deleted posts, at Google Cache.)
Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.
But on the web, nothing's ever truly gone, is it?
SlickDeals forum member Neekyme saved photographs from Jaime's blog showing the items she bought in one of her YouTube Target trips, along with her receipt, and posted them on SlickDeals.
Members of A Full Cup have started decoding the UPC codes listed in the photograph of Jaime's receipt from one of her Target videos. User Timmsa writes, "upc 541058560936 and 541058530939 are the $4 off the Schick Quattro Razors. 537000616745 is for the Crest Whitening strips." Unfortunately, Jaime bought neither Schick Quattro razors, nor Crest Whitestrips in her Target trip, and neither of these items are shown in the photo accompanying the receipt.
Members are asking for anyone who saved the videos to repost them... and again, nothing on the web is truly ever gone. How long before the videos resurface too?
4/9/11 UPDATE - Jaime's Target YouTube Videos Found
Three days after this story was written, the diligent members of SlickDeals found and reposted Jaime's Target shopping trip videos. Extremely questionable coupon usage is shown throughout:
why would TLC not do the same homework before casting her?)
A Full Cup forum member Manders13, who is also appearing on TLC's Extreme Couponing's new season, wrote about bringing these issues to TLC's attention, stating "i can tell YOU that a certain PROGRAM knew NOTHING about allegations and her fraud.... So please- don't use that excuse! SHoulda seen the look i got when i brought her "Target Trips" to light with certain people!"
(UPDATE: 4/7/11 11:45am) BeCentsable Founder Chrissy Pate contacted the blog to clarify that Jaime Kirlew "is no longer a Becentsable Educator... We contacted her after her Target trip and let her know that these are NOT the things that we teach and she has not been with Becentsable since then." Full email is posted in the Comments below.
In yesterday's ABC News article about the new season of TLC's Extreme Couponing, Jaime Kirlew states, "My image is very important to me." TLC's press release for the new season of "Extreme Couponing" states: "Some of the people profiled in the series include Montgomery Village, MD's J'aime, a paralegal who brings her prides herself on her couponing professionalism while scoring $1900 worth of merchandise for $103..."
A Full Cup member Tratra writes, "If they are taking a more educational approach in this series than they did the first show, how unfortunate that TLC would choose to go with somebody who advocated committing so much fraud. And she taught/teaches others to do the same thing."
View a clip of Jaime's TLC Extreme Couponing shopping trip, via Entertainment Weekly: